Interview: Masha Voyles, 2017 Winner
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m American, originally from New York, but my family moved to Paris when I was ten. When I was sixteen, I decided to go to boarding school in England, and fell in love with British culture. I did my undergraduate degree in English literature at UCL, and am now doing a masters program in eighteenth century literature and the Romantic period at Oxford.
What made you want to submit to the Publishers Prize this year?
I love to write, and try to grab any opportunity I can to get published. The theme of ‘transformation’ also appealed to me as a good starting point for a story. At bottom, most short stories are transformations of some kind, whether it be a momentary epiphany, or a deeper more lasting character shift. It was a pretty juicy subject to dig into.
Has the Prize changed your career as a writer in any way?
It was definitely very encouraging and winning has given me more confidence in my writing. I’ve finally worked up the confidence to start on a bigger project, and I’m working on a novel at the moment in my spare time.
What would you say to people considering submitting their story/poem but aren’t sure whether to do it?
Go for it! After all, what is the worst that could happen? The story that I submitted last year was deeply personal, and I was very afraid to let anyone read it. It was about a having an abortion: a topic that a lot of people would find shocking or controversial. But I think that the one thing I’ve learned is that you have to be brave when you write.
Could you give any tips to the aspiring writers applying for this year’s edition?
I’m just a beginner, really so I’m not sure if I’m in a position to be doling out advice, but there are a few things that I’ve found really help me. The first is to read a lot and to get inspired by other books. I also like to keep a journal, and try to do lot of writing prompts.
What is your favourite book? (and maybe why)
I actually read a lot of children’s and young adult novels, because that is the genre that I would like to write myself. I love all of Kenneth Oppel’s books, as well as darker authors like Louise O’Neill. In terms of classics, I love Anna Karenina and anything by Jane Austen.